Crunchy Thoughts

The thoughts are crunchier here.

end of year notes

And suddenly it’s the end of 2015. This year went by so quickly there were some things I never got around to writing about, so I figured I’d fill in the gaps. Not sure if we did way too much this year or if I’m just getting old. Maybe a bit of both.

In October we completed our family Disneyworld trip extraordinaire — and survived! I’d never been to Disneyworld outside of school trips before, so I feel pretty good with how everything worked out with all the planning I had to do. Man, that was the key right there. Planning. Disneyworld favors the planners. Dinner reservations were made, fast passes were acquired, and itineraries were printed.

Since we had a lot of time to prepare for the trip, there were only a few surprises. We discovered the first one on our first night at the resort, where we had a character dinner. The moment we walked into the restaurant and Sam saw the six foot tall Pluto walking around, he nope’d right back out into the lobby. We ended up playing a game of round robin during dinner, with one person hanging out in the lobby with Sam. In hindsight, I should’ve just ordered a pizza up in the room with him.

kevin goofy

sam eat

Our second surprise was how quickly we warmed up to the idea of a rental stroller for Sam. The moment we passed the ticket gates and saw the sea of people, we knew that was the way to go. With Sam happily secured in his own personal stroller bubble, we were better able to navigate the masses. Well worth the 60 or so bucks it cost to have a stroller for the entire trip.

sam stroller

The third surprise was a tragic one. During our first full day at the park, the room-cleaning staff, surely accidentally, scooped up Lydia’s treasured white blanket along with the rest of the laundry and my personal microfiber hair towel. I shed no tears over the hair towel, but Lydia’s blanket is irreplaceable. The blanket was HER THING, that one thing that a young child attaches to and never gives it up. Though the staff assured me they have protocols and safety nets in place for this sort of thing, the blanket never turned up. How in the hell their “protocols” couldn’t catch a well-worn blanket WITH HER NAME STITCHED ON IT is beyond me. I plan on writing a letter, but three months on, I’m still too mad to concentrate on it. This is the first time I’ve actually typed the story out, and now I’m all pissed off again.

So. Back to more jolly things.

Happy happy happy.

lydia blanket

Here we go.

Not so surprisingly, Lydia loved all the character meet and greets. Her first meet-up ended up with Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and after that she was hooked. She met with most of the characters we saw, including her favorite, Princess Aurora, and Anna and Elsa from Frozen, which we thankfully had fast passes for.

lydia cinderella

lydia aurora

Sam enjoyed quite a few rides. At Magic Kingdom we rode It’s a Small World, Peter Pan’s Flight, and the Peoplemover many many many times over. Peter Pan’s Flight was a new one for me, and it was neat, but I don’t see how the incredibly long line was justified. The wait was usually 90 minutes! Thankfully, Sam’s DAS pass kept him from waiting in that line too long.

sam carousel

Both kids enjoyed the food. They tried all the ice cream sandwiches and frozen Mickey-shaped Popsicles they could talk us into buying for them. Sam particularly enjoyed some sort of cherry slush I got in the Japan Pavillion at Epcot.

Oh yes, the food. Epcot was having their Food and Wine Festival while we were there, and the place smelled absolutely divine. I had some spectacular escargot and a vodka-based push pop in France.

The last few days were rainy but it didn’t slow the kids down. In fact, Sam was very pleased with the rain. Despite the wet weather we were able to enjoy the fireworks at Magic Kingdom on the last day.

lydia rain

sam fireworks

Though I’ve been to Disneyworld many times previously, this was the first time as a parent, and in a way it was like experiencing it for the first time. Seeing the park and all its magic through their eyes was an amazing experience, and I’m so very glad we were all able to go.

silhouette family

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Other things have been going on as well. On November 21st, my father wedded a lovely woman by the name of Margaret. They’ve been dating for about two years, but they knew each other back in the ’70s. Cathy and I are thrilled for Dad and we’re glad to count Margaret and her family as part of our own.

dad margaret

The wedding itself was an intimate affair, held in the chapel of St. Paul’s Church in Athens, Alabama, where Margaret is from and to where Dad has now moved. It was at the wedding that Cathy and I first met Margaret’s family, including her mother, her two children, and her grandson, who is a year or two older than Lydia and Elizabeth.

dad margaret family

During the reception Lydia and Elizabeth entertained the crowd with some extemporaneous dancing on a low stage while Cathy and I visited with friends and family, both old and new. While speaking with Dad’s best man, a long-time friend of both our parents, he gestured at the crowd and mused, “You know, all of this, in a way, is a testament to your mother.”

“How is that?” I asked.

“Well, the fact that your dad wanted to get married again just shows how wonderful she was and how great of a marriage they had.”

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Let’s see, and now we’re just finishing up the holidays. The Christmas decorations are still up but we’ll be putting them away in the next few days. I’m ready to move on into 2016 and surely at some point this winter it will actually FEEL like it. The last two weeks have been in the 70s and we’ve had a few tornado outbreaks. Never fun.

Halloween was right after we got back from Disneyworld. Ever since summer, Sam has been looking forward to Halloween — he wanted to be Godzilla. His costume, purchased from Amazon, was a huge success. I’m glad I bought it early so Sam could practice being in it. The costume was very claustrophobic and it was a long time before he was willing to suit up all the way.

Lydia wanted to be the scariest thing she could think of, but she couldn’t decide between a skeleton and a zombie. Amazon once again was a winner when we found a skeleton zombie costume — the best of both worlds!

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Halloween night ended up very rainy, but it didn’t stop Godzilla and Ms. Skeleton Zombie. Sam’s costume brought a lot of attention. People stopped him on the street so they could get a picture with him. Ms. Skeleton Zombie was not amused by her brother getting all the attention, and she was much happier when she went off with her cousin and some other neighborhood friends to trick-or-treat with the bigger kids. Godzilla Sam stomped around in the puddles for an hour and growled at everybody answering the door.

Christmas was just as crazy as last year, but I think we handled it better, stress-wise. Christmas can be very overwhelming for Sam, but this year one of his presents proved most helpful — we turned his closet into a ball pool! Just like Chuck E. Cheese, but without the plethora of germs and kid pee. Whenever Sam needed to get away from all the crazy, he’d go in his closet, shut the door, and roll in the balls over and over. From the living room, it sounds like distant thunder. Steven and I are trying hard not to make ball jokes, like “Sam plays with his balls a lot,” or “Sam likes to be balls deep.” We’re horrible. Horrible!

Sam also added to his Godzilla collection. Not only did he get a “Godzilla with a button that makes it roar” that he asked for from Santa, he got 11 other Godzillas (11!), a Godzilla pen that projects Godzilla onto the wall, a Godzilla shirt, a Godzilla book, and a Godzilla fuzzy blanket.

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Now he’s asking for Mothra.

Lydia, completely unlike her mother, asked for clothes, and boy did she get them! She’s got about five or six new dresses to model, along with some sweaters, boots, and fashion accessories. Santa brought her a soccer net, but it’s been so rainy we haven’t had a chance to try it yet. Her present from us is a telescope, but that one’s on the back burner as well. It arrived broken and I’m still in conversation with the company to get it fixed. It’s been too rainy and cloudy to use it this week anyway.

lydia clothes

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Someday, we shall see sunlight again.

So now we’re enjoying our last week of holidays before the new year arrives and we’re back on our schedule with school, gymnastics, and drum lessons.

And life goes on.

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